Friday, April 22, 2011

30 Minute Chili

I have nothing against slow-cooked chili and I do use my crockpot frequently. But it is possible to make flavorful chili on a weeknight in about half an hour (including the time to defrost frozen ground beef!) and using a single pan.

  • 1 pound 90% lean ground beef
  • 1 30 oz (the fat size) can Brooks hot chili beans
  • 1 30 oz can of tomato puree or diced tomatoes.
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 red, yellow, or orange bell pepper
  • 1 medium yellow onion
  • About 1/2 cup chili powder
  • Epazote* (optional)
  • Salt and fresh cracked pepper, to taste
  1. While the ground beef if defrosting in the microwave (I can never remember to thaw in the fridge ahead of time), chop the onion and pepper. Chop them at coarse or fine as you like. My peppers usually end up about 3/4" square and onions about 1/4" or so.
  2. In the bottom of a 6-quart chili pot (stock pot, dutch oven, whatever you call it), heat the oil over medium heat until shimmering.
  3. Add the peppers and the onions and cook, stirring often, until they begin to soften and brown a bit, maybe 3 minutes or so
  4. Add the ground beef to the pot and brown it with the onions and peppers. Using the lean ground beef means there's nothing to drain, which saves me a step.
  5. Turn on your vent. Or open a window. Trust me on this.
  6. Add your chili powder, dry, to the hot pan with the meat and onions/peppers. Stir it in and cook about 3-5 minutes before adding any liquid. This may smoke a touch as the ground peppers release their oils. The hotter your chili powder, the less I would recommend inhaling deeply over the pot as it toasts. But, you have to stir and scrape the bottom to make sure nothing burns or sticks. Toasting the spice like this deepens the chili flavor quickly, bringing out some of the flavor that usually takes a long simmer.
  7. Pour in the tomatoes and beans and epazote (if using), stir, then cover your pan and lower the temperature to medium-low. Simmer about 10 minutes (or longer if you have longer).
  8. Before you serve the chili, taste it. Depending on what kind of chili powder you use, you may not need to add any salt and pepper, or you may need quite a bit. Add a little, stir, wait a minute or two, then taste again.
  9. In our family, we serve chili with tortilla chips or cornbread muffins, shredded cheese, and a bottle of extra-hot sauce for myself and my husband (we haven't quite killed the kids' tastebuds yet).

*Epazote is a mexican herb that is supposed to act as a natural Bean-o and reduce the gassy after-effects of the chili. It's just a dried leaf that adds little in the way of flavor to the chili. Anecdotally, I think it works :) I buy mine at Penzeys as well as their chili powder (we keep medium, hot, and a few extra additions onhand, and custom-blend depending on who is eating).

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